On the eve of the ICC World Cup Final, champions Blackheath, suffering a similar season as did Beckenham the season after their championship win, were the visitors to Foxgrove.
Beckenham skipper Alex Senn won the toss and opted for first use of a firm, dry pitch and the match began with a technical problem meaning that the manual scoreboard was in operation until the fault was rectified with this scorer being the only occupant of the scorebox today. A steady start by the skipper and ‘Disco Dan’ against accurate spells by Tanweer Sikandar and Jahid Ahmed was ended with Senn being trapped in front by the former for 17. His partner Hardy could not repeat his performance of the previous week and was next to go as Mehdi Abbas replaced Ahmed from the Pavilion end. Will MacVicar and Johan Malcolm batted in untroubled fashion with the score increasing at a good rate, a fifty partnership being achieved before Abbas had MacVicar dragging on for 29. Finn Bryan, restored to the side due to the County’s decision to ask Alex Blake to carry the drinks at the Aegeas Bowl, looked a much more comfortable player but still has the infuriating habit of picking out the fielders! Nevertheless, with Malcolm taking charge, Bryan kept the scoreboard ticking over on a pitch with a certain amount of variable bounce. Another fifty partnership accrued before Bryan departed, bowled by Dipayan Paul’s off-spin for a solid 26. Poor Stuart Binny’s season with the bat doesn’t get any better as he was bowled by one from the returning Ahmed that pitched leg and hit the top of off stump. Opening. Malcolm completed another excellent fifty and, with good support from Mahi Mahfuzul (26*), was last out for 83 with Beckenham closing on 223-7 which was a decent score on this pitch. Mehdi Abbas with three wickets was the most successful Blackheath bowler with good support from Ahmed and Sikandar.
The Blackheath reply started against a typically incisive opening burst from Stuart Binny while Will MacVicar adjusted his line. Dipayan Paul was first to go, edging an outswinger to Malcolm at slip before George Wells, after a couple of typical aggressive shots, was trapped in front by MacVicar, 38-2. Binny struck almost immediately afterwards when skipper Senn held former Bangladesh Test player Mohammed Ashraful at backward point. Rob Clements was then brought into the attack as Binny was rested and he removed Charlie Speller with another catch by the skipper to put the visitors in trouble at 59-4. After a short spell from Shojib Ali, Johan Malcolm entered the fray and he responded by dismissing the dangerous Sikandar for 23 who had been building a useful partnership with Richard Fleming. With Malcolm powling steadily and well, Clements was rested and Mahi Mahfuzul came on and, in his third over, broke the promising stand between Fleming and Jahid Ahmed by bowling Fleming for 24. Malcolm struck immediately afterwards when he pinned visiting skipper Willetts in front without scoring. As Ahmed played the anchor man role, the incoming Mehdi Abbas began to take the fight to Beckenham with sensible shot selection and electric running. With the score standing at 148-7 in the 40th over, Malcolm had Abbas edging behind to James Balmforth for 20. Still the visitors pushed on with keeper Basit Ahmed lending good support in a useful stand before Mahfuzul virtually ended the visitors’ resistance by having Jahid Ahmed holing out to MacVicar for a vigilant 38. As Clements returned at the Pavilion end, the final rites were duly administered with another MacVicar catch to remove keeper Ahmed and Beckenham achieved their fifth win in a row and now stand one tantalising point behind leaders Bexley who lost to Sevenoaks Vine.
Malcolm capped a fine all-round performance with his 3-32 but all the bowlers performed well and were backed up by excellent fielding. Next week sees Beckenham visit Manor Way for a showdown with Bexley. Meanwhile, this scorer will now watch the World Cup final on terrestrial TV before departing for an evening of culture at the Royal Festival Hall or, as the great Jon Anderson used to announce during Yes concerts, “Mr. Rick Wakeman on keyboards.”